MAVTV Lands Despain: Standing before a room full of journalists during the 2nd annual “Lunch with Lucas,” iconic motorsports journalist Dave Despain remarked, “The only way they could get rid of me was by getting rid of the whole damn network!” You’ll recall that Despain and his popular “Wind Tunnel” show were dropped last year when SPEED TV gave way to Fox Sports 1. Well, Despain’s loyal following received an early Christmas gift at the 2013 PRI Show when it was announced that he’d recently inked a two-year contract with Lucas Oil-owed MAVTV. In addition to emceeing live broadcasts of the Chili Bowl Nationals, Show Me 100, Lucas Oil Challenge Cup and other races throughout 2014-15, Diamond Dave will host his own 30-minute series called “The Dave Despain Show,” featuring long-form interviews with both up-and-coming drivers and idols of the sport. “I was going through racer interview withdrawal,” he explained, “and it’s really exciting for me to get back to the grassroots of racing.”
Swan Song For The King: There may not be a more decorated race car driver alive today than Steve Kinser. The numbers are staggering: 20 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series championships; 576 WoO A-Feature wins; 12-time champion at the Knoxville Nationals. Over a career that began in 1978, Kinser has defined short-track dominance…and endurance, starting more than 2000 career races with the punishing WoO tour. While legends live forever, they all must retire someday. Still, it was somewhat surreal to hear Kinser, “King of the Outlaws,” discuss the upcoming WoO season—his last one as a full-time driver—at the PRI Show. Clearly emotional, Kinser promised to hold nothing back in 2014. “This year won’t be tough at all,” he said. “It’s the year after that’s going to be tough. Sprint car racing has been a part of my life since I was born. This is a pretty hard situation for me. It’s been my life and my family’s life.” To honor their grand champion, WoO officials have labeled the 2014 season “Salute to the King.” It kicks off February 14 with the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida.
Simpson Gets Social: It’s always a challenge to see everyone—and everything—you hope to see at the annual PRI Show. But this year I was fortunate enough to catch up with one of my favorite people, Simpson Performance Products’ Vice President of Marketing, Debbie Bishop. Earlier in the year we had discussed some of the new initiatives Bishop and her team were working on, including Simpson’s social media endeavors. I was interested to hear how those efforts had progressed since we last spoke. She explained that in addition to maintaining a presence on the leading social networks, Simpson now includes a provision in its sponsorship contracts that requires racers to post about the company through their personal Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. “We have certain things we expect, and when we didn’t button that up, it was hard to make it happen,” Bishop explained. “So now they’re all doing it—guys like Justin Allgaier and Timothy Peters, for example. Or we’ll get together with John Force Racing and ask them to have Brittany (Force) Tweet about a new driving glove we’re introducing.” Here’s a company that has figured out how to translate “Likes” and “Followers” into meaningful impressions. Well done.
Engine Masters: Congratulations to a group of students and their coach who took top honors at the 2013 Hot Rodders of Tomorrow National Championship. Team Moroso from Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center in Chocktaw, Oklahoma, and instructor Jim LaFevers out-worked 22 other squads from around the country over an intense four-day engine build competition that unfolded during the 2013 PRI Show. Look for a full report in the February 2014 issue of Perfomance Racing Industry magazine.
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